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June 21, 2011

Social Networking Background Checks Get a 'Yes' from FTC

By Michelle Amodio, TMCnet Contributor

Up for that shiny new job and cleared the first round of background checks? Might want to double check that you haven’t had any lewd behavior online because the FTC (News - Alert) just gave the green light to include your Facebooking habits in your job screen.

No longer are employers relying on a quick Google search to find dirt on prospective employees. Now hiring managers are looking to Facebook (News - Alert) posts. In fact, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Social Intelligence Corp. has been given the legal thumbs up to archive seven years worth of your Facebook posts. These archives will be used as part of their background checking service for job applicants.

Social Intelligence Corporation was found to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and means that a search of anything you have posted to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube (News - Alert), LinkedIn, Tumblr or any other online service can be used as part of a background check when you are applying for jobs. This should not come as much of a surprise, as there is nothing to stop potential employers or university recruiters from searching for you online and using information they find as part of their background check.

While Social Intelligence will be forced to make sure that clients tell job applicants if their candidacy was affected because of information that was found online, that news may come a little too late. The reason for this is that Social Intelligence archives your online activity for 7 years, according to Forbes. So, if you posted a drunken photo of yourself on your public Facebook profile in the last few months, it will remain on Social Intelligence’s files until 2018 — whether or not you have deleted it from Facebook.

According to a report from Tecca, individuals are allowed to dispute any records should they feel their online social misgivings were due to “no fault of their own.” The unfortunate circumstance is that anyone who is affected by this won’t really know until after a job has been denied.

One can only suspect that if Social Intelligence has the go-ahead to operate in this capacity, other start-ups might follow. That’s all the more reason to err on the safe side and use Facebook’s privacy settings to their fullest.

Does learning about services like Social Intelligence make you want to recheck your security settings or start using them if you haven’t done so already?

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Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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